Reading over all these parts again, I realize that I’ve mentioned her in nearly every part. However, in the times of our relationship, while living under the same roof, she was never brought up in any of our conversations.
Pre-COVID, his work office was going through some renovations and his team was temporarily relocated to Rockefeller. I can’t remember if we ever talked about it, but I knew that she worked in the same building. Of all the buildings in New York, they happened to be working in the same one. Should I have taken this as a sign?
Then COVID arrived in NYC.
From March 2020 until January 2021, we worked, ate, and slept under the same roof. The days started to melt into one another, and although it was nice to be in his company, we became stagnant and complacent. Like so many others, we had planned trips to Istanbul, Lisbon, and London, and as the months passed, we had to cancel them one by one.
He mentioned wanting to move to a Latin American country, his desire to escape the city and go somewhere new and warm. I didn’t take him seriously. Maybe I should have — maybe she would have.
Without being able to travel, see friends, or exercise, he became moody and irritable.
Meanwhile, I felt trapped in my job. It left me at the end of the day feeling drained and helpless. Then my grandfather passed away, and I felt like I had to suddenly come to terms with my parents’ mortality. I found it hard to get out of bed, to muster up the confidence to show the world that I could achieve anything, let alone the bare minimum. Since he was the only person to witness it firsthand, I leaned on him heavily. I put all my happiness in him; maybe I already had put all my happiness in him. And although he was running on low, he could still make me feel like everything was going to be okay.
But I know that my inability to do things, to make decisions, to be adventurous, to be fun, annoyed him.
Where did that girl go? The one who was always down to try new things? The one who was excited about the future? She feels like a stranger to me. I lost her somewhere along the way, and after I pick up the pieces of myself, I will go looking for her again.
We both emerged out of of 2020 mere glimmers of our previous selves.
And although I thought we would buckle down and see the rest of this pandemic through, he announced that he was going to move. To Costa Rica. He wanted to end the lease, go work from a warm country for a few months, and return to New York in June.
You would think that this is where it ended. Many of my friends thought that this was the end. Even I thought it might be the end. I even gave him an out.
He didn’t take it.
He wanted me to come along. He said he wanted to live with me when he got back. I felt like he was uprooting my life — I didn’t want to live without him, but I couldn’t simply move to a foreign country in the midst of the pandemic. Also, my job wouldn’t allow it.
So I said I would move home. Until life beckoned me back to New York.
During the month of January, we packed up all our belongings. Our shoes, clothes, books, kitchenware, furniture, memories, all stuffed into bins and boxes. We said our see you laters, and on January 30th, he flew to Costa Rica, and I flew to Portland.
Two weeks passed, rather uneventfully. We would text and call regularly. It didn’t seem like he was having the time of his life there, but I know that he was glad to be somewhere new.
Valentine’s Day came and went. He delivered a book to my house, even though I had said we could just exchange books when we saw each other. He said he loved me and missed me and wanted to see me.
Then a few days later, he asked if he could call.
He took a moment to gather his words together and asked if he could bring her up. That for the last few months he had been trying to writing and re-writing an email to her. To apologize for the way he acted, and to ask if they could be friends again. That while he was in Costa Rica, he had sent the email, and although he didn’t expect her to reply, that she had called him. That they had spoken on the phone to catch up.
He said that if he had stopped to think about me, we would have had a conversation and he probably wouldn’t have sent the email. But he put himself first. He said that he had been cowardly, that he felt wrong to think of her or love her or even want to talk to her. He said he felt ashamed to try to unpack that with me. So he didn’t try.
He said that he knew she was different. He said that he felt like something was missing in our relationship, something that wasn’t missing with her. That he has to see if it will work with her. That he has to see if everyone is just out there building the most of what they can with what they have, or if there are truly people with the “it” factor.
He said that he was too cowardly to see me in person, not sure if he’d be able to follow through.
[He offered to fly here, but ultimately I told him not to. He does not get to break me, only to come and try to pick up the pieces.]
He said that he is a bad person, a bad partner, and a bad friend. That he always chooses what he desires first, and tries to make the rest fit as best as he can in the moment. He said he is still a child that doesn’t know what he wants.
He said he still loves me and that I am his best friend. That he wants to grow old with me and make me happy.
In some ways, I was blindsided. I felt disrespected, inconsequential. I still feel that way. But I also know that our relationship never had a fair shot from the beginning, because he never cleared it up to see if it would work with her. He did acknowledge this. I believe that he is romanticizing what he had/will have with her, but maybe I am just bitter and in denial.
I also know that he has to try.
I have wondered what would’ve happened if I had chosen to go to Costa Rica with him. Or if she hadn’t replied to his email. But it doesn’t really matter, does it? At the end of the day, he could not pick me. He did not pick me. He was not capable of picking me, and even if he did pick me now, he currently is only capable of picking himself in the end.
I’m not really sure what to say here. I don’t know what happens next.
I do know that all of our stuff still resides together in the same bins and boxes in NYC. It will have to get sorted at some point — the books, furniture, kitchen items that we bought together.
I do know that we are not friends.
I do know that, for whatever reason, I so badly still want to be.